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Lindsey Jacobellis wins Team USA’s first gold medal at Beijing Games with victory in women’s snowboard cross

By Aleks Klosok and Ben Morse, CNN

Lindsey Jacobellis secured Team USA’s first gold medal at the Beijing Olympics with victory in the women’s snowboard cross big final on Wednesday.

After near misses at previous Games, the 36-year-old finally topped the podium at her fifth Winter Olympics.

“This feels incredible because this level that all the women are riding at is a lot higher than it was 16 years ago,” Jacobellis told reporters.

“So I felt like I was a winner just that I made it into finals, because that’s been a challenge every time.

“All these ladies out here have the potential to win and today it just worked out for me that my starts were good, that my gliding was great, and everything just worked for me today.”

Jacobellis infamously won silver in Turin at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The American, who was 20 at the time, looked set to win gold in snowboard cross’ Olympic debut after racing into a huge lead with the finish line in sight.

But with victory seeming inevitable, Jacobellis appeared to showboat on the penultimate jump by grabbing her board.

The result was catastrophic. She fell to the ground and watched on in horror as Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden sped past to win gold and leave Jacobellis in second.

Despite the disastrous outcome in 2006, Jacobellis said after becoming an Olympic gold medalist that she doesn’t feel a sense of redemption.

“I never thought of it that way. That was not in my mind. I wanted to just come here and compete.

“It would have been a nice, sweet thing, but I think if I had tried to spend (time on) the thought of redemption, then it’s taking away focus on the task at hand, and that’s not why I race.”

‘Pressure on me to be the golden girl’

After Turin, Jacobellis finished fifth at Vancouver 2010, seventh in Sochi 2014 and fourth in PyeongChang four years ago.

Experience and nous, though, won the day for the American at Beijing with Chloe Trespeuch of France taking the silver and Canada’s Meryeta O’Dine getting the bronze.

Jacobellis was already the most-decorated snowboard cross athlete with five world titles, two World Cup crystal globes, and eight X-Games titles.

She can now add an Olympic crown to her name.

Asked whether she would have won the gold medal in Beijing if she had won gold at Turin in 2006, Jacobellis says that experience helped shape her future.

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“Probably not, and I probably would have quit the sport at that point because I wasn’t really having fun with it.

“There was so much pressure on me to be the golden girl. I’d won so many races going into it and it’s a lot for a young athlete to have on their plate.

“That’s definitely something that the media doesn’t always understand and you don’t realize how young some of these athletes are.”

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